That's what he said before yesterday's win over the New Jersey Nets, presumably with a straight face. We know how terrible the Sixers have been lately with two high-profile losses to the dregs of the league. Which is why Doug Collins' quote from prior to the Nets game is so -- I don't know -- confusing? Frustrating? Heartbreaking?
By Friday night, the Sixers will have played three games post-statement. Two against the Nets. One against the Raptors. If the Sixers were to win all three (or all two, since one's in the bag), all it would tell us is that they've stopped free-falling. If they won all three by an average of 45 points, it would tell us they can still beat the snot out of bad teams. If they go 2-1, it's got to be considered a failure.
But under no circumstances do those three games give us any indication of "who they are". The Sixers have beat up on terrible teams all season long. I'm pretty sure they still lead the league in most 20+ point victories. The problem has been an inability to compete with teams that are in the upper echelon, because they don't have the talent to match them. So how would beating two teams with a combined winning percentage of .350 say anything about the state of a team who has fallen from 3-seed to 8-seed like it's got a brick in its pants?
There's only one thing these games can tell us, since the development of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner is in neutral. And that's if they lose the next two games, they're awful. That will be "who they are". These games won't take us anywhere but down. Win them, and we're in the same position (opinion-wise, not with regards to the record - obviously in the standings, a win is a win) - a team that can beat up on bad teams they won't face in the playoffs. Lose them and they better start making summer plans. That Collins is even hinting that these games would define them as a team is just another tally mark in the scoreboard of not looking at the big picture.
It's nice to see players smiling and Thaddeus Young holding Doug's hand on the sidelines, but let's not kid ourselves here. These are gift-wrapped games for the Sixers to gain some confidence. Nothing more, but it could mean a whole lot less. 9 games remain.